Grower Q&A with Ralph Child, Childstock Farms

Market Report

Corazon Foods Releases Chip Line that Reduces Cholesterol
 

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Introducing a New Generation
of Spudman
Every media outlet is seeking relevance in the 21st century. Generational changes are making traditional print outlets obsolete as readership is declining moving to new, free mediums like the Internet.

Younger Americans are more likely to learn about breaking news from the Web than they are from picking up a newspaper or magazine. Even the current generation is more technological than ever. At a recent potato meeting, I watched as growers checked their e-mails and looked up news on their cell phones and Blackberries.

So in order for Spudman magazine to be even more relevant to this and the next generation of potato growers and marketers, Great American Publishing has launched eSpudman, an exclusive online supplement to the print publication. This free service will provide the most current information about the potato industry, as it’s happening.

The monthly e-newsletter will hit your e-mail inbox right about mid-month. In each online issue, you’ll find a quick Q & A with a grower, a piece on shipments, pricing and storage, and a marketing section highlighting new products and promotions. You’ll also find links to news stories on the Spudman Web site and other news sources.

A few years ago, when the Internet was still new, the buzzword was “interactivity.” That’s the goal of eSpudman — information directed at readers that is timely and important. And interactivity is a two-way street, so we want to hear from you, our readers. Let us know what information you would like to receive in an online format, and we’ll work together to make eSpudman an e-newsletter that you look forward to getting in your inbox — just as you look forward to receiving Spudman magazine.

I look forward to serving our readers in this new format, and I sincerely hope you will use this as a tool to increase the profitability of this industry.
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Ralph Child of Childstock Farms, Malone, N.Y.
This month's Q&A features Ralph Child of Childstock Farms, a seed-growing operation in northern New York. This certified seed grower is the president of Empire State Potato Growers through 2008 and serves on a number of executive boards for the association.

Will the Alberta seed situation affect your business?
Not a lot. Typically, of course, our buyers are in the eastern half of the country. Most of it stays not too far off the Coast. I did send one load to California of a specialty variety that otherwise might have come out of Alberta. And certain yellow varieties are hard to come by, too. It’s the western russet guys that are mostly going to be affected.

The seed growers are tested every year because nematodes are present in New York. The seed area is isolated, but the nematodes are in New York so we’re under regulations. When the nematode was found in Idaho, we were already under regulatory guidelines so we were already being tested. It really didn’t change anything, it was pretty much business as usual.

How do you determine what varieties to grow?
I’ve got my regular customers. I don’t do anything under multi-year, written contracts. Most is tablestock, but I do some chipping varieties, too.

Are you looking at new equipment to buy?
Thinking about it. Coming up with a plan. I do some leafy greens vegetables up here too, so I’m looking at that side of the business.

What maintenance are you doing on your equipment now?
I’ve been doing general farm machinery, packing equipment, that sort of thing. Getting some of that done. Not so much on the irrigation because of the climate, it’s not really needed.

I’m working on the refrigerated coolers now to get those ready for the season. TEXT

 

Market Report
Fresh potato shipments are down slightly from 2007, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The top five states shipping potatoes were Idaho, Colorado, Wisconsin, Washington and Maine, in that order.

Idaho fresh shipments are up slightly, with the state shipping about 70 percent russet Burbanks and 22 percent Norkotahs in the second week of January. Prices for cartons of Idaho russets a selling for $11 to $11.50 for 40-, 50- and 60-count 50-pound cartons.

Movement of fresh potatoes out of Colorado is expected to decline slightly, but prices are holding. They range from $8.50 to $9 for 40-count cartons to $10 for 60- and 70-count cartons.

California winter potatoes are estimated at 2.75 million cwt., according to NASS. Production is down 11 percent from 2007, but up 12 percent from 2006. Growers are reporting a good crop, and NASS is reporting a harvested area of 11,000 acres and an average yield of 250 cwt. per acre, a 35 cwt. increase from last year. California is the only state reporting winter harvest numbers, with Florida’s harvest figures now included in the spring totals.

Production of spring potatoes in Florida is estimated at 7.8 million cwt., but cold temperatures in early January may have damaged some of the fresh market crop. Temperatures in central and south Florida were in the upper-20’s to low-30’s and stayed there for six hours. The state department of agriculture said the damage to crops would be isolated, although the governor did sign an emergency order relaxing the weight, height, length and width restrictions for commercial vehicles transporting vulnerable crops to processing sites. Potato harvests may be delayed slightly because of the freeze, with harvest expected the first week of February. Plantings in northern Florida continue on schedule.

Movement of chipping potatoes is slow on the open market, with most movement under contract. Round white U.S. No. 1 chipping potatoes in Michigan are trading at $8.50.

 

Corazon Foods Releases Chip Line
That Reduces Cholesterol
Los Angeles-based Corazonas Foods — whose name was inspired by the Spanish word for heart — introduced a line of branded potato chips this month that uses a patented technology to reduce the bad type of cholesterol.

The Heart-Healthy Potato Chips are infused with plant sterols that reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol by 15 percent, according to the company. The chips also contain no trans fats and 40 percent less fat than regular potato chips without sacrificing the potato chip taste or feel that customers expect.

Five flavors will introduced in January: Slightly Salted, Mediterranean Garlic & Herb, Italiano Four Cheese, Pacific Rim BBQ and Spicy Rio Habanero. The chip line extends Corazonas’ line of healthful products just in time for American Heart Health Month in February.

Heart-Healthy Potato Chips will be available nationwide this month at Safeway, Von’s, Kroger, Dominick’s, Randalls and Tom Thumb supermarkets. On the West Coast, the chips will be sold at Albertsons, Ralphs, King Soopers, Bristol Farms and Raley’s supermarkets. They also will be available at Sam’s Club, Costco Wholesale and Wild Oats stores. They will sell at retail for $2.99 for a 6-ounce package.

For more information, visit www.corazonas.com.